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October 2016

Too Cool to Care?

There you are, clipping away, when you feel that your clipper blade is bogging down. Or it gets too hot, and you want to chill it  so it does not injure the animal you are working on.  What do you do?  

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If you are like many groomers, you grab an aerosol can of coolant spray.  Then you direct the mist at your blade and give it a blast.  Immediate gratification!  Your blade speeds up, you can hear it.   It's all good, right? 

WRONG.  Here is why: 

Let's start with simply reading the label.  If you use the product, please read the fine print. The brand I have in my hand as I write this says the following, "This product contains o-phenylphenol, a chemical known in the state of California to cause cancer in accordance to Proposition 65.)" It also says, "Prolonged or frequently repeated skin contact may cause allergic reactions in some individuals."  And there are several paragraphs of sobering first aid information. 

Now, think about this.  Every time you use a coolant spray, you are filling the very air you breath with minute particles of a substance that the manufacturer warns you may be irritate skin, (let along delicate LUNGS!) and is known to cause cancer.  I'm not a doctor, but this does not sound like a good idea to me.  Now, if you are not worried about your personal health,  (and you really should be) lets think about the potential problems this stuff could be doing to the pets in your care.  They are breathing in that same polluted air, and residue from the product is coming into contact with the animals skin and coat.  AND, they could lick that residue and ingest it. 

I can hear you.  "I've been using coolant sprays for years and nothing bad has ever happened."  I am so glad!  But please consider that repeated exposure could have long term residual effects. If you are still not convinced, lets talk about what these sprays do to your grooming equipment.

I asked my favorite sharpening guy, Randy Lowe from Precision Sharp (Pennsylvania) to help me understand about using coolant sprays.  He said, "They burn off very fast. They are normally alcohol based with very little oil. After about 2 minutes as the spray dissipates it makes the blade even worse because you have raw metal on metal if you don't lubricate with blade oil." Indeed, the brand I am looking at now has a "care tip" on the label that states, "Oil blade after every use for increased effectiveness."  So, they want us to use their product, and then stop again to oil our blades.  Not much of a time save there, is it? Seems the manufacturer understands full well that our blades really need oil and not spray lube. 

I asked Randy about using other spray lubricants, such as WD40. Is that a good idea? He replied, "That's a personal choice. I feel spray lubricants do nothing. Blade oil is designed so that the top and bottom blades hydroplane on this miscroscopic coating of oil with a certain spring tension for a certain period of time. The problem is blade oil attracts hair, it sticks to the blade. On the other hand, WD40 cleans, lubricates, and hair does not stick to the blade. The down side is that the lubricating action does not last as long as blade oil does." And, of course, since it is also an aerosol, the problem of breathing in chemicals is still present.  

Simple solution?  Use blade oil. Wipe it off, a thin coating will remain to keep your blades working at their prime, and reduce the problem of hair sticking.  Your blades will stay cooler, and run more quickly. They will stay sharp longer. The blade drive in your clipper will not have to work as hard, so should not wear out as quickly. You will not be inhaling potentially dangerous chemicals. It's a winning situation all around. 

Please care about your health, and the health of the pets you groom. Ditch the spray lube, it's not cool.


A few thoughts about cat grooming...

Thirty or so years ago I was a brand new groomer and my boss, a brilliant but mercurial veterinarian told me he had scheduled two cats for me to groom the next day. I loved cats, but had never groomed one, and told him, "Oh, I don't do cats." He said, "Then you are fired."  Needless to say, I learned to groom cats.  I realized back then that there was very little information out there for groomers to learn anything about grooming cats.  Fortunately, times have changed. 

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Now there are cat grooming organizations, and books dedicated to the topic.  There is a current wave, (of which I whole heartedly approve!) of grooming cats holistically, focusing on their bodies, minds and spirits.  If you would like to learn how to safely, kindly and compassionately groom cats, check out: 

http://www.professionalcatgroomers.com/

and the Holistic Cat Groomers facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/groups/HolisticCatGrooming/

These sources will give you educational material, mentoring and more. Grooming cats does not have to be like juggling chainsaws.  The cat above is a rather crotchety thing, with a coat that tangles like none I have ever worked with.  It is possible for me to clip, bathe and dry her without any restraint using methods that modern cat groomers employ. 

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And this guy?  He is being bathed in this photo. As you can see he is totally calm and relaxed.  I have groomed thousands of cats over the course of my career, and am still learning.  I am so glad there are like-minded groomers who care about the happiness and well being of the felines in their care.